This report presents the findings of an impact evaluation of the health impact assessment (HIA) on the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council’s Air Quality Plan Change. HIA is a practical assessment tool to ensure that health, wellbeing, and equity are considered as part of the policy/programme development process. This particular HIA was led by the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board (HBDHB) in partnership with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council (HBRC). The evaluation was undertaken by the HIA Research Unit, University of Otago, with funding support from the Ministry of Health’s HIA Support Unit’s Learning by Doing Fund.
The overall aim of the evaluation was to assess the impact of the HIA’s major outputs (the HIA report, its evidence and recommendations) and effectiveness in assisting to inform the decision-makers of the potential positive and negative health and wellbeing impacts of the Air Quality Plan Change.
The evaluation was undertaken by a University of Otago’s Health, Equity and Wellbeing Assessment Research Unit evaluation team 10 months following the completion and distribution of the HIA’s report in June 2009. Data for the evaluation were gathered by a review of the HIA report and other relevant documentation and nine telephone interviews with key stakeholders with direct knowledge of the HIA’s report and its overall influence on the HBRC’s decision-making regarding its plan change.
The evaluation’s key findings indicate the HIA process was effective. All six of the HIA’s recommendations were endorsed by the HBRC’s Environmental Management Committee’s councillors and subsequently by the HBRC councillors at a full council meeting. All eight of the HIA’s objectives were met.
The HIA on the HBRC’s Air Quality Plan Change is another good example of the value gained from the use of HIA in the Hawke’s Bay Region. It is also another example of the Ministry of Health’s Learning by Doing fund having been put to good use.